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Ghosts and Lightning [Paperback]

Trevor Byrne
3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (35 customer reviews)
RRP: 10.99
Price: 9.19 & FREE Delivery in the UK on orders over 10. Details
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Book Description

4 Jun 2009
Happy or unhappy, all families are a mystery. None more than the Cullens. Having escaped their clutches and moved across the water, Denny is just beginning to make a life for himself when a call from his sister brings him back to Dublin, city of his birth. Back to square one. As if squabbling siblings and unhelpful childhood friends weren't trouble enough, a ghost starts making appearances in the family home and Denny’s life starts to get a lot more complicated. Full of riotous laughter, wonderment and love found in the most unlikely places, Ghosts and Lightning is an exuberant tale of someone trying to do the right thing surrounded by the wrong choices. It is also a revealing chronicle of our times from an exceptional new Irish talent.

Product details

  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Canongate Books (4 Jun 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1847673295
  • ISBN-13: 978-1847673299
  • Product Dimensions: 13.7 x 21.5 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (35 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,015,129 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description


* Ghosts and Lightning is a powerful novel and Trevor Byrne is a very powerful writer. The narrator, Denny, and the others around him are great characters, often funny, sometimes frightening, always very human. I loved it. -- Roddy Doyle * This is an amazing book, written with force and passion. And Denny is a very funny and slightly demented tour guide to twenty-first century Dublin. A gripping and dark ride to the mad side of town, Ghosts and Lightning marks Byrne as a writer to get hooked on. -- Matt Haig * Ghosts and Lightning is engaging and funny. Trevor Byrne delivers an acute portrayal of loss in a story filled with warmth, humour and wonder. -- Catherine O'Flynn, Author Of What Was Lost * Byrne's voice crackles with energy and dark humour in a richly-evoked novel of Dublin family life. Irish Independent * Byrne is depicting a similar kind of urban underclass to the one Roddy Doyle has written about, with the same humour and attention to detail...Also in common with Doyle, Byrne does it without being patronizing or pitying. Scottish Review of Books 20090501 * Funny and entertaining, yet tinged with sadness and desperation ... there is much to applaud in Byrne's powerful debut. His writing is concise and unfussy, yet not without literary flourishes ... Judging by this poignant, compelling and often deeply comic tale of life on the margins of Irish society, Byrne seems certain to enjoy greater longevity than the Celtic tiger. Sunday Business Post 20090628 * Lurching, wisecracking, poignant and drunken ... engaging, exhuberant, hilarious ... Fans of Roddy Doyle will be agreeably entertained, while the semantically minded may be inclined to marvel at the numerous variations on the word "fuck". -- Catherine Taylor Guardian 20090627 * Trevor Byrne's first novel looks like the Irish debut we have been waiting for, a novel which could fill out our incomplete literary map of Ireland and allow southwest Dublin to take its place alongside Toibin's Enniscorthy, McCabe's Monaghan or Doyle's Northside. -- Barry McRea Irish Times 20090620

Book Description

Canongate brings you the next Roddy Doyle - an outstanding debut from a young Irish talent

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Thoroughly enjoyable 14 Aug 2009
By Nicolette Laurence VINE VOICE
Format:Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
I really enjoyed this book. It is funny and sweet, but intelligent too. It is written mostly in the first person and as the author is Irish, it is written as it would be spoken - ie with phonic spelling of words spoken with an Irish accent. This made it slightly hard going, but no less enjoyable. I often devour books in two or three days, but this one took a little longer because I had to put it down more often - deciphering the text was sometimes a bit tiring! But overall, a really good read, an excellent storyline. I think the accent thing would make this an excellent audiobook. Lots of bad language, so steer clear if that offends you, but this book is worth putting up with it. It is very real and thought-provoking. A story about an individual, his family and friends, which would be a good read for someone looking for something intelligent but not too heavy.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An Irish "Trainspotting" - with added depth 26 Aug 2009
Format:Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
Although at first I found the Dublin dialect a little difficult to follow, I was glad I persevered with this lively and imaginative debut novel. Student Denny Cullen returns to his native Dublin after his mother's death and is pitched into a world of small-time crime, ancient echoes and everyday tragedies. Ghosts and lightning, we are told, cast no shadows - but the light and shade cast by half-hidden emotions and mythological resonances give real depth to this story of urban outsiders in search of escape. Not so much a plot as a series of memorable set-pieces: a bare-knuckle fight on a gypsy encampment, a drug-sozzled party, a camping trip in the mountains outside the city, a seance which attracts the voice of Cuchulainn. But it's a bright, satisfying read for all that - funny and sinister by turns, full of memorable characters, farcical moments and poignant insights. It owes more than a little to Irvine Welsh's Scottish classic "Trainspotting", but it has more heart, more depth and probably more compassion.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Funny, atmospheric and nostalgic 21 Aug 2009
By Russell Smith VINE VOICE
Format:Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
There's not much of a 'story' here, but Ghosts and Lightning still feels like a book that will claw its way in to your consciousness and stay there for a long time.

The heart of the book is Denny, returning home following the death of his mother. It's perhaps not a hugely original starting point, but his thoughts are so well expressed that they will resonate with a lot of people in their twenties and thirties. The conflicting feelings about old friends - warmth, pity, frustration - are well written and seem based in personal experience.

Events in the book are episodic and meandering, with some more memorable than others, but manage to cover the whole spectrum of human emotion. In the end though, it's the tone of the book and the atmosphere that it creates that stay with you.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Electric 22 Jun 2009
Format:Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
A brilliant book, with every element you could require in a novel. The characters are lovely; Denny Cullen and his sister Joanne, their friends and extended family, all brought together following the death of Denny and Joanne's mother. They all live in a suburb of Dublin, on the fringes of society, no jobs or security, drugs and violence interspersed with loyalty and friendship. A great tale, well told, and in a language which sings out. Denny is a loveable character and knows the difference between right and wrong. He has missed his chances in life but is not bitter and wishes harm on no one. He is grieving for his Ma and struggling to make sense of life. It ends on a hopeful note with fresh starts for everyone and a sense of life going on. Highly recommended and very funny.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Black Pool 8 Aug 2012
I loved this book. Simple as that. Trevor Byrne is a highly skillful writer, good enough so's you don't really notice it. With the very first sentence you've got the tone, the situation, the young man at the heart of the story, returning home to Dublin, brought back by the death of his mother. And wrapped around his story is the city of Dublin - funny, threatening, shallow, and deep. It's a rich story, richly told.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Entertaining and Intelligent 24 April 2010
On first sight, Trevor Byrne's debut novel Ghosts and Lightning is obviously strongly influenced by Roddy Doyle circa The Commitments, The Snapper and The Van. There's the same warm, funny southern Irish vernacular, the underlying family loyalty despite superficial bickering, even the same style of a hyphen denoting speech instead of quotation marks. Will Byrne have anything original to offer, I wondered.
He does. Ghosts and Lightning is a hilariously entertaining story which also touches on more serious subjects such as death, loneliness, family ties and the yearning for love.

Starting with the unusual second person perspective, the reader is propelled into the life of Denny, a twenty six year-old Dublin boy from Clondalkin. Denny has been in Wales for a few months, trying to make a life for himself, but receives a phone call from his older sister Paula to say that their mother's died. Within the first page, Denny is on his way home to his remaining family and his friends.

Switching to the more familiar first person narration from the second chapter on, Byrne traces the first few months of Denny's return to his hometown. Vivid portraits are painted of his sister Paula, a disorganised and sometimes volatile woman who has turned to alcohol in the wake of her mother's death; of Pajo, Denny's gentle, sensitive and spiritual old friend, an ex junkie now on methadone; of Maggit, Pajo's brother, an angry young man who dotes on his son, Anthony, who lives with his mother, Maggit's ex girlfriend Bernadette; and of Ned, a chancer who sells stolen goods on his market stall and who has recently fallen for a middle class art student, Sinead.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Great service!
Arrived next morning even though I only ordered it the evening before. Book was great too, look forward to his next one.
Published 16 months ago by Donna
2.0 out of 5 stars I Must be missing something
I started this book after my wife kept telling me to read it, as she thought that as a Irish man i would understand it better. Read more
Published on 12 Nov 2011 by Kevirish
5.0 out of 5 stars Someone Film This!
Warm, funny, poignant and profound. The narrator, Denny Cullen, is an utterly convincing and extremely likeable guide to modern day Dublin, and the cast of supporting characters... Read more
Published on 26 Aug 2010 by johnny_deformed
3.0 out of 5 stars Accomplished first novel...
Written as part of an M Phil in Creative Writing, Ghosts & Lightning is the first novel of young Irish author Trevor Byrne. Read more
Published on 20 July 2010 by H. Albert
5.0 out of 5 stars Deadly (In the Dublin Sense)
A really funny book with a heart of gold, a great pace, a smattering of mythic allusions and musings, and brilliantly evoked characters. Read more
Published on 17 July 2010 by Timrek the Gorf
3.0 out of 5 stars An ok read
I had high hopes for this book with it being set in Dublin and found the use of an Irish dialect interesting. Read more
Published on 3 Jun 2010 by D. Gibson
5.0 out of 5 stars What a great book!
This is a great book. Byrne's sharp and fast first-person narration has a fantastic pulse and Denny's a completely convincing and memorable character. The voice is pitch-perfect. Read more
Published on 27 Feb 2010 by RabidReader
1.0 out of 5 stars Painful
If, like me, you find attempts to write in dialect excruciating, you won't get very far. I know it's an Irish thing but I can't stand it. Read more
Published on 31 Jan 2010 by R. Munro
4.0 out of 5 stars Tender and intimate
Refreshing to read a book with a genuinely 'Dublin' feel to it and about people that are often invisible and overlooked by the media and powers that be. Read more
Published on 13 Jan 2010 by noc
3.0 out of 5 stars Difficult to get into.
For the simple reason it is written in the Irish vernacular. However, once you get past this in your head the novel isn't too bad. Read more
Published on 8 Oct 2009 by Pyewacket
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